I’ve been using Windows-Shift-S to capture my PC screen but it’s really clunky. There’s a PrtScn print screen button on the keyboard, though; can I set that up to capture my screen instead?
It’s hard to imagine a situation where people would have been printing out the contents of their PC display so often that it made sense to have a dedicated key on the keyboard for the task, but I bet you have one: PrtScn. Even virtual keyboards and emulators include support for the print-screen key. But what does it actually do nowadays? Turns out it actually does something if you press it; it copies the current screen to the clipboard. Then you can launch a program to paste it into a new window and save it as a file. Or, of course, you could paste directly into an email, a document or similar, for programs that support that functionality.
What most people don’t realize, however, is that Windows 10 actually lets you assign the PrtScrn button to launch Snip & Sketch, the screen snipping program that’s also included with Win10 on your modern PC. Well, there’s an intermediary step involved but let’s have a look at how to make this change to your PC setup and then use it for a quick full-screen grab…
To start out, search for “ease of access keyboard” in the Win10 search box of your Taskbar:
It will let you quickly jump to the Ease of Access Keyboard Settings, as shown above. Click or tap to launch that system setting, then scroll down a bit until you see these options:
It’s “Print Screen shortcut” and once you enable it, the PrtScn button on your keyboard will open screen snipping (aka Snip & Sketch).
Enable this feature, then press the print screen button on your own keyboard. Most all of the screen will grey out and it’ll look like this:
The key thing to notice is the small toolbar that appears along the top of the screen:
That lets you choose which of the four kinds of screen capture you want, or you can cancel. Left to right, it’s a click-and-drag box you can use to define the capture region, a freeform shape you can use to define the capture region, the selected window, the entire screen or, if you click or tap on the “x”, a way to cancel and quit the screen capture entirely. Easy enough with a bit of practice!
Once you take a screen capture it again goes into the copy buffer, but this time you also get a notification on the lower right of your screen too. Something similar to this:
Click or tap on this notification and Snip & Sketch will open up with your new screen capture displayed:
At this point you can trim it down, annotate it, save it to a file for later use and a variety of other things. Snip & Sketch is a surprisingly powerful program, actually, so it’s worth learning if you’re going to use it with any frequency.
That’s it. Now you know how to have that PrtScn button do something quite a bit more useful and help you quick produce screen captures you can quickly and easily trim, clean up, and save as files on your system.
Pro Tip: I’ve been writing about Windows since the early days, please do check out my extensive Windows help library for hundreds of other useful tutorials and guides while you’re here! Thanks.